Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Night Watch

Night Watch (2003), Terry Pratchett. Paperback, 432 pages.

Awards: Prometheus Award.

Summary: An aging police officer gets transported thirty years back into his own past, and must decide what actions to take to save himself, his family, and his city from chaotic and sadistic forces. For a more detailed summary, click here.

First Sentence:
Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it.
     Vimes had been expecting this. It was a terrible thing for a mind to do, but his had already presented him with the idea of Igor and Sybil in the same sentence. Not that he disliked Igor. Quite the reverse. There were watchmen walking around the streets right now who wouldn't have legs if it wasn't for Igor's genius with a needle. But --
     "Fine. She's fine," he said abruptly.
     "Only I heard that Mrs. Content was a bit worr--"
     "Igor, there are some areas where . . . look, do you know anything about . . . women and babies?"
     "Not in so many wordth, sir, but I find that once I've got someone on the slab and had a good, you know, rummage around, I can thort out most thingth--"
     Vimes imagination actually shut down at this point.
     "Thank you, Igor," he managed without his voice trembling, "but Mrs. Content is a very experienced midwife."

Writing Quality: 6/10

Depth of Concept: 7/10

Rounded Characters: 5/10

Well-Developed World: 6/10

Page Turner: 8/10

Kept Me Thinking: 7/10

Overall Recommendation:7/10

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: Ender's Game (Book 1 of Ender)

Ender's Game (1985), Orson Scott Card. Paperback, 324 pages. 

Awards: Hugo Award, Nebula Award

Summary: A boy is selected to train in a space-based battle school to defend humanity against an alien threat. For a more detailed summary, click here.

     Ender grinned. "I'm helping you."
     "Like hell," said Bean.
     "Nobody would notice you, except to feel sorry for the little kid. But I made sure they all noticed you today. They'll be watching every move you make. All you have to do to earn their respect now is be perfect."
     "So I don't even get a chance to learn before I'm being judged."
     "Poor kid. Nobody's treatin' him fair." Ender gently pushed Bean back aginst the wall. "I'll tell you how to get a toon. Prove to me you know what you're doing as a soldier. Prove to me you know how to use other soldiers. And then prove to me that somebody's willing to follow you into battle. Then you'll get your toon. But not bloody well until."
     Bean smiled. "That's fair. If you actually work that way, I'll be a toon leader in a month."
     Ender reached down and grabbed the front of his uniform and shoved him into the wall. "When I say I work a certain way, Bean, then that's the way I work."
     Bean just smiled. Ender let go of him and walked away. When he got to his room he lay down and trembled. What am I doing? My first practice session, and I'm already bullying people the way Bonzo did. And Peter. Shoving people around. Picking on some poor little kid so the others'll have somebody they all hate. Sickening. Everything I hated in a commander, and I'm doing it.

Writing Quality: 6/10

Depth of Concept: 7/10

Rounded Characters: 7/10

Well-Developed World: 7/10

Page Turner: 9/10

Kept Me Thinking: 6/10

Overall Recommendation: 7/10

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On offending fans (and being wrong?)

So, I've posted truncated versions of all of my book reviews on Amazon (Here's my Amazon profile). I thought it would be fun, I was curious how it worked. And I made some immediate enemies. Here are a few of the comments I've gotten from readers of my reviews there:

Why slam a book this much, please stop reading, talking about this book or all 3, and of course the movie. Peace, out. Move onto another book to slam (preferably 50 Shades of Grey!!!!!).
Typical. Someone who doesn't write particularly well has plenty of criticism for someone who does. Perhaps you could complete your English degree and come back when you are able to avoid awkward phrases such as "from the get-go" and use words properly (I believe you meant "flair" rather than "flare", for example).
I'm pretty sure you are not the target audience for this book if you are scribbling critiques in the margins and compiling notes on its failings, as if you are going to write a term paper. OK, so you are not impressed. But do you ever turn off your critic and read for pure fun?

So, basically, despite my efforts to not sound too much like a pompous douche-bag, people still think I'm a pompous douche-bag. That's okay. I can't say it's a criticism that's completely off the mark. It's just that these kinds of comments are rarely followed up with much of a rebuttal of any points in my review.

So, I wonder, are my reviews wrong? Did I miss something significant when I read the books? Obviously all of you, my loyal (can you be loyal after three weeks?) readers, won't be so critical, since that might hurt my feelings (hurt my feelings! Do it! I can take it! I love a good argument! Maybe I'll change my mind! Maybe I'll stop exclaiming things!).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

So, the book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die has been out since 2006, and it's already made its way around the internets many times . . . but I've not really seen it discussed specifically on fantasy and science fiction review blogs, so I figured I'd include it here, since I came across it last night and decided to browse through and see how many I've read. There's plenty of criticism to be found about its eclectic and sometimes arbitrary selection of novels (No Cormac McCarthy? No Norman Mailer? No religious texts?) but I think it's perfectly adequate as a conversation (argument?) starter.

Also, you'll want to note how many science fiction and fantasy novels are on the list (quite a few). I put my reads in bold, and numbered how many I've read in each category next to the category. I've read 90. How many have you read?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games (Book 1 of The Hunger Games)

The Hunger Games (2008), Suzanne Collins. Hardcover, 384 pages.

Summary: A girl takes her sister's place to compete in a violent game where victory means being the last one alive. For a more detailed summary, click here.

     The swelling. The pain. The ooze. Watching Glimmer twitching to death on the ground. It's a lot to handle before the sun has even cleared the horizon. I don't want to think about what Glimmer must look like now. Her body disfigured. Her swollen fingers stiffening around the bow . . .
     The bow! Somewhere in my befuddled mind one thought connects to another and I'm on my feet, teetering through the trees back to Glimmer. The bow. The arrows. I must get them. I haven't heard the cannon fire yet, so perhaps Glimmer is in some sort of coma, her heart still struggling against the wasp venom. But once it stops and the cannon signals her death, a hovercraft will move in and retrieve her body, taking the only bow and sheath of arrows I've seen out of the Games for good. And I refuse to let them slip though my fingers again!


Writing Quality: 4/10

Depth of Concept: 3/10

Rounded Characters: 3/10

Well-Developed World: 5/10

Page Turner: 8/10

Kept Me Thinking: 4/10

Overall Recommendation: 5/10